The Road America Road Race Showcase has played host to two of the most dramatic endings in the last two years, including the closest finish in series history a year ago, the American Le Mans Series returns to Elkhart Lake’s Road America this weekend for the four-hour Road Race Showcase. What will this year bring?
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, seeking its sixth consecutive victory overall with Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr, has been on both the winning and losing ends of the two since 2010. After Graf ran out of fuel only corners from the finish two years ago, Jonny Cocker stormed past to take Drayson Racing’s first win in the series.
Graf redeemed himself and the team a year ago (LEFT) by holding off a relentlessly charging Guy Smith of Dyson Racing. Smith went off course at times in his pursuit, ultimately ending just 0.112 of a second short.
Dyson’s new Lola Mazda has failed to match the similarly new HPD ARX-03a fielded by Pickett, save for Lime Rock. But at a track where the Mazda could have improved straight line speed, the No. 16 of Smith and Chris Dyson could play itself back into closer contention and end the Muscle Milk streak. The older, second Dyson car of Eric Lux, Michael Marsal and Tony Burgess runs a three-driver lineup to make up the numbers and benefit for points if Muscle Milk hits trouble.
A four-car P2 lineup, same as at Mid-Ohio, is back. Dempsey’s strategy of a three-driver lineup isn’t an option with Dane Cameron, the team’s pro third driver, on Rolex Series duties in Montreal. Elsewhere Level 5 swaps Ricardo Gonzalez out for Luis Diaz, set for his first start since Monterey in May. The two class championship contenders, the lead Level 5 HPD (Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut) and Conquest Morgan Nissan (Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson) should again battle for the class win.
Dyson Racing’s second Lola-Mazda was third in class and fifth overall with a 1:57.693 (123.820 mph) for the trio of Tony Burgess, Eric Lux and Michael Marsal.
In P2, Conquest Endurance’s No. 37 Morgan-Nissan of Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson set the class’ best lap of 1:56.458 (125.134 mph). The effort, on the car’s final lap of the session, gave the Conquest duo a 0.392-second gap back to Level 5 Motorsports’ duo of Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut.
The class championship leaders drive Level 5’s No. 055 HPD ARX-03b that won the most recent Series round at Mid-Ohio. The No. 95 Level 5 prototype was third in class with a best time of 1:57.752 (123.758 mph). Tucker and Luis Diaz share driving duties.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports set an early tone for what it hopes will be a successful defense of its 2011 Prototype Challenge victory at Road America. The No. 52 ORECA FLM09 of Marino Franchitti and Rudy Junco set a lap of 1:59.302 (122.151 mph) two weeks after its first 2012 victory at Mid-Ohio. Junco and Butch Leitzinger were class winners at Road America last season.
CORE autosport’s two entries sat second and third. The No. 05 of Jon Bennett and Colin Braun was 0.362 seconds behind the PR1 entry with the No. 06 of Bennett, Alex Popow and Tom Kimber-Smith next at 1:59.873 (121.569 mph).
Flying Lizard Motorsports placed its two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs first and third in GT. The No. 45 of Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long went quickest in class with a lap of 2:06.918 (114.821 mph) after a fight through the session with Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. The pairing in the No. 4 Corvette C6 ZR1 were 0.086 seconds clear of Marco Holzer and Seth Neiman in the second Lizard Porsche. Milner and Gavin lead the GT championship with three victories. Long and Bergmeister were class winners at Lime Rock Park in early July.
The GT class is usually a free-for-all at Road America. Three different manufacturers and teams have won in class since 2008.
GTC championship leader Alex Job Racing set the best time in class Thursday with its No. 22 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The car of Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen posted a lap of 2:14.309 (108.502 mph) to beat out Green Hornet Racing’s Damien Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre in the No. 34 Porsche by 0.312 seconds.
TRG’s No. 66 entry of Spencer Pumpelly and Emilio Di Guida was third at 2:14.708 (108.181 mph).
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